A reporter asked New York Mets manager Buck Showalter after his team’s 13-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday night if he has allowed himself to enjoy his team’s big lead in the National League East. To be fair, the questioner put in the caveat that it is early.
Contrast that with the Nationals clubhouse, in which manager Dave Martinez was merely trying to figure out who would start Game 3 of the series for his last-place team on Wednesday.
That shows the stark contrast between the division rivals as they wrapped up play on Memorial Day, the first traditional benchmark in the major league season.
Before Wednesday arrives, the two teams will do it all again Tuesday in New York, with Patrick Corbin (1-7, 6.30 ERA) starting for Washington against Trevor Williams (0-3, 4.37).
The Nationals need some length from Corbin after their Monday starter, Erick Fedde, went only 1 1/3 innings. That caused a chain reaction that messed up Martinez’s pitching plans. Wednesday’s presumed bullpen-game starter, Paolo Espino, wound up throwing 48 pitches over three scoreless innings.
“We’ll see,” Martinez said postgame. “The game (Tuesday) is going to be the telltale. We’ll see how the game goes (Tuesday).”
In other words, Corbin, who has allowed two runs in a total of nine innings over two starts vs. the Mets this season, can’t afford to get knocked out early. Corbin has gone at least five innings in each of his past six starts and at least six innings in four of those outings.
Corbin is 5-8 with a 4.16 ERA in 22 career games (21 starts) vs. the Mets.
It’s unclear if the Nationals will have Nelson Cruz available on Tuesday. The designated hitter was struck on the left ankle by a David Peterson pitch in the first inning on Monday, and he was removed for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. However, X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day.
As for that question about whether Showalter and his players are enjoying their early success, the veteran manager said, “Enjoy means that you’re satisfied. … The word ‘satisfaction,’ I don’t think that’s a mentality that any of our guys have.”
Mets right fielder Starling Marte is hitting 19-for-52 (.365) in his past 11 games, and he went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs on Monday night.
“He’s being really selective,” Showalter said. “He’s seeing the ball on the white part of the plate a little more. … I don’t think he’s trying to hit a home run. I think he’s trusting himself and just letting the ball travel.”
With sparkplug Brandon Nimmo having missed the past three games due to a right wrist injury, the Mets have gotten a lift from Nick Plummer. The rookie outfielder became the first player in club history to homer in his first two starts when he hit an opposite-field, three-run shot on Monday.
Plummer’s ninth-inning solo blast off Phillies closer Corey Knebel on Sunday night tied the score and set the stage for a New York win in 10 innings.
Showalter said he is hoping Nimmo can return to the lineup Tuesday night.
Williams enters his Tuesday start having pitched scoreless ball in three of his past four outings, though he has been bouncing back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. Most recently, he threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
In 10 career games (seven starts) vs. the Nationals, Williams is 1-3 with a 3.99 ERA.
–Field Level Media